Friday, March 5, 2010

A Language of Facial Expressions Part I

To compensate for his physical helplessness, a new born baby depends upon a remarkable set of survival tools- his built in repertoire of emotional expressions, until he can master his parents language, they must master his: For months, emotional signals like those picture here are the only means he has to communicate his basic needs and his reactions to the formidable world beyond his high chair and crib.

This wordless code representing joy fear surprise and other primal emotions that are present from the early weeks of life is the closest thing we know to a universal human language. Researchers have observed that infants of every culture, middle class America to the tribal, use the same patterns of facial expressions, gestures and sounds to signal their feelings. And parents of every culture face the same task- to interpret their child’s messages and respond in a way that ensures the little one’s survival.

A baby’s emotions work for her in two essential ways. Her positive expressions of joy, interest and surprise are like green traffic lights: they tell her mother and father that she is enjoying the experience of the moment for the pleasure or information it is yielding, and encourage the parents to continue the stimulation. For example, when your baby sees an intriguing new toy, she will stare intently- a universal sign of interest that conveys to you the notion,” I like this. It is teaching me some thing; I want to go on exploring it”